Hong Kong's port last month continued to regain ground lost in the first quarter as containers moving over the docks at the main terminals in Kwai Chung rose 4.5 per cent year on year. Terminal operators handling the deep-sea traffic moved 1.08 million teu (20-ft equivalent units), pushing year-to-date volumes just shy of the 7.6-million box mark, or 2.3 per cent up on the comparable period last year. Operators and shipping lines are reporting strong container volumes on all three of Hong Kong major trade lanes - to and from Europe, the United States and the intra-Asia region. 'Volume growth is certainly higher than revenue growth. To Europe is looking particularly strong, with capacity at a premium,' said Stanley Shen, general manager corporate marketing for Orient Overseas Container Line. Deep-sea volumes through the port have returned to a relatively safe growth area after spending the first four months in the red year on year. Comparisons for the year so far are against a weak base, given that last year was the first time the port witnessed a contraction in volume. But comparisons with the port's best year, 2000, indicate the terminals are moving high volumes: the first eight months of 2000 generated 7.6 million teu on the way to a record 1.6 million-teu total. The Port and Maritime Board attributed the mid-year turnaround to the 'improving performance of trade in the Hong Kong and Guangdong region'. But Shenzhen, whose ports were blamed for siphoning off cargo from local operators in the first half, has turned provider lately. The south China ports, particularly Yantian, are bursting at the seams, and the overflow is benefiting Kwai Chung as the holiday peak season enters full swing.